When your mom told you to eat your fish because it can make you smarter, this wasn’t just an old wives’ tale.
Three studies have recently come to light that also think so.
Science continues to find new associations between brain health and omega-3 fatty acids.
Whilst this may all seem like fishy business, eating plenty of fish oil really is good for brain health.
Why is fish oil considered a brain food?
Before we look at these studies we need to get a little technical.
One of the nutrients from this family is phosphatidylcholine, an important brain nutrient; it helps to create structural components in the brain, supplying the nutrient choline, which is vital for the brain to make acetylcholine – an important neurotransmitter that helps to prevent memory loss.
An acetylcholine deficiency is thought to be one of the major causes of senile dementia when taken together, B5 and choline enhance acetylcholine. It has been clinically proven to help with memory and mental performance.
Interestingly, supplementing choline does not guarantee that it will enter into the brain cells; the good news is that the nutrient found in fish oil does. This nutrient is known as Dimethylaminoethanol, or DMAE for short; it can pass easily into the brain, where it converts into choline, making acetylcholine, the important biochemical that can help to prevent dementia.
What are the benefits of fish oil?
The pioneer of DMAE treatment, Dr Carl Pfeiffer, found that the benefits of fish oil are extensive:
- can improve mobility
- it is a mood enhancer
- boosts intelligence
- can increases energy
- improves heart benefits
- a powerful anti-inflammatory
- improves skin conditions
- can help with memory loss
- helps to reduce joint pain
- increases blood flow by slowing down atherosclerotic plaque, reducing triglyceride levels
- improves hair growth
In fact, Carl Pfeiffer’s results had such a positive outcome that today, in the United States, DMAE is prescribed to children who suffer from learning difficulties, reading, speech, and behavioural problems.
This study looked at whether Omega-3 EPA and DHA can help counteract air pollution on the brain.
Air pollution is a growing often unheard of the problem; environmentalists predict that it is responsible for as many as five million premature deaths each year, which is staggering.
When we think about air pollution, we mostly focus on the skin, and we don’t always think of it indirectly damaging the brain. A study in the scientific journal Brain is challenging this. It found that exposure to tiny air pollutants may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, other related dementias, and accelerated memory loss.
This is what makes this study, which found that omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation and maintain brain structure in ageing brains so compelling.
Further research also found that the oil reduced neuro-toxin-related damage to the brain from heavy metals like mercury and lead. This study looked at the possibility of omega-3 fatty acids having a protective role impact against an unusual and potentially dangerous type of neurotoxin PM2.5, which is often found in air pollution.
They found that long-chain omega-3 fatty acid blood levels could modify the potential neurotoxic effects of PM2.5, fish oil benefits for the brain to be gained from regularly supplementing.
Although not providing definitive answers in these areas, the studies really show us that the mother really does best. They provide us with a greater impetus for understanding exactly how omega-3 benefits the brain. And leave us and the scientific community wanting more. As of course science should.